Thursday, July 16, 2009

Iowa Art - Iowa Department for the Blind Project

On July 10, 2009 the Iowa Department for the Blind unveiled seven sculptures by Ann Cunningham at a celebration held to reveal their new logo, discuss the new provider jobs they will create using stimulus funds, and show off their new Public Arts Program project. State Senator Staci Appel spoke to the gathering as well as Iowa Arts Council board member, Colleen Armstrong. Bruce Williams, Coordinator of Operational Support and Public Art Program for Iowa, was also in attendance. After the presentation hosted by Director Karen Keninger, staff and students at the Department for the Blind conducted tours and assumed the role of docent for their new art collection.

The event was planned and executed with attention to every detail and so it is no surprise it was such a huge success. I would like to thank everyone at the Iowa Department for the Blind for making me feel so welcome.

I first wondered if a person who was blind could interpret a bas relief picture in the early 1990’s but it wasn’t until 1998 that I was given a show by Director Cynthia Madden Leitner at the Museum of Outdoor Arts in Englewood, Colorado, to explore this concept. In the course of my research I was directed to the Colorado Center for the Blind and soon after began teaching art.
After I came up with the brilliant idea of starting a class at the Center and got the job I then had a quiet moment to wonder if teaching art to people who are blind is even possible. Well ten years later I find my self wondering, “What was the question?” I have yet to find a road block we can’t get around with a bit of creative problem solving.
The work at the Iowa Department for the Blind incorporates the sum of what I have learned about creating pictures to be interpreted by touch.
It seems fitting and right that I should come from the Colorado Center to share my work since it was the groundbreaking work of the Iowa Department for the Blind that created the model upon which the Colorado Center is based. The programs which are based on the Iowa model empower students and remove limitations by replacing “No I can’t” with “I can once I know.”
I am thankful for this opportunity to share my work with all Iowans but especially the 69,000 blind and visually impaired residents. Communities are built through shared cultural connections. I am happy to be able to make a cultural icon accessible as well as introduce new concepts for creating accessible art for all.
Sincere thanks, Ann

Links to some of the media coverage are:


J A Harnett-Hargrove said...

Your site is updated! Looking GOOD! -Jayne

sl said...

Ann, these pieces are really brilliant. You have found the sweet spot between creating an aesthetic experience that is also instructional. Most tactile representations of art works are either hopelessly difficult to understand or simplified to point of losing the original significance or purpose of the piece. But these are amazing: they are full of clear information that communicates art historical significance, aesthetic joy in making, and important lessons about visual and tactile perception. In particular, the ones that teach concepts of perspective and other methods or representation are so good. I would like to help you now add some touch-sensitivity to your next project. Imagine if you could touch the wife in American Gothic and then hear her story told in her own "voice".